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Accessing Private Knowledge for Public Conversations:
Attending to Shared, Yet-to-be-Public Concerns in the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing DALN Interviews

Jennifer Clifton, Elenore Long and Duane Roen
University of Missouri, Arizona State University1

Surely, the public life of an idea is always more situated, structured, and complicated than a digital archive can sufficiently represent or support (observations beyond the purview of this essay). In light of this complexity, we contend that the DALN serves as a repository of embodied, situated knowledge to which rhetorical technai associated with intercultural collaboration and rhetorical listening can be put. That is, in tandem with writers learning to use and move among such technai, the DALN can provide a training ground of sorts for the rhetorical work required to help to circulate, as appropriate, such privately held situated knowledge to support shared understanding, inquiry, and communicative deliberation.

As public sphere theorists tend to cast publicity, public life begins when an idea is framed, launched, and circulated within what Nathan Crick and Joseph Gabriel call the "arc of controversy" (212). Public world-making, according to Michael Warner, is a matter of "[r]unning it up the flagpole and see[ing] who salutes" (114). As Lorraine Higgins puts it, you know you're onto a public idea when the buzz around it escalates to an undeniable din (Higgins, Long, and Flower 13). But how do we get to this point? In particular, how do we as citizens, teachers, and rhetors recognize concerns embodied in the situated knowledge of others so that these concerns might receive the public attention they deserve? It is here that we—the authors of this exhibit—see special benefit to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). In this piece, we consider how writing teachers and students could approach a subset of literacy narratives—particularly those of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Contributors —to begin discerning concerns that merit more and more public attention.

In this chapter, we examine how DALN interviews capture the situated knowledge of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing contributors and how such situated knowledge could inform collaborative inquiry to make public deliberation more inclusive of the insights and perspectives of people with first-hand knowledge of what it means to be a Deaf literacy learner. This focus on situated knowledge is central to the third practice of Higgins, Long, and Flower's rhetorical model, a practice that "develop[s] participants' rhetorical capacities" (19). By focusing our attention on publicly relevant situated knowledge, we restrict our focus here to just one significant challenge of public world making.

Foremost, we contend that learning to listen for such concerns and engage in public world-making is an ethical matter, relevant to students and teachers alike.

1 We would like to thank our project manager, Megan Mason; text editor, Amanda Klump; and digital document designer, Leslie Daniels, for their contributions creating this online curated exhibit.

2 Debates about whether to use "Deaf" or "deaf" are as contested as any of the issues raised in the critical incidents we mention in this chapter. Some scholars use "Deaf" as a way of recognizing the unique culture and shared language of deaf people and "deaf" as a way of referring merely to a medical/audiological condition. In deaf and disability studies, many authors and scholars indicate their preference and distinctions in opening footnotes, but as Brenda Brueggemann acknowledges in a similar opening footnote ("Introduction: Reframing" 1) and deals with more extensively in her essay, "Think-Between: A Deaf Studies Commonplace Book," making the distinction doesn't lessen the confusion for writers or readers. We are aware, too, of the further and inherent complications we face as hearing writers making this distinction. Still, while we understand that many who are designated as medically deaf are not necessarily Deaf culturally and that there are a host of people with hearing loss who may fall in, out, or between Deaf and Hearing cultures at any one time, we use "Deaf" (capitalized) throughout to indicate Deaf culture and identity and "deaf" (lower-cased) to indicate a medical/audiological condition. Further, in an attempt to counter the invisible nature of the dominant hearing culture and to help ourselves and readers, especially hearing ones, become more aware of the ways our hearing may restrict our understanding of issues raised by those who are culturally Deaf or medically deaf, we, likewise, use "Hearing" (capitalized) when we are referring to culture and "hearing" (lower-cased) when we are referring to an audiological condition or act.

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